Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Council candidates say how they'd spend £1m

TWO new community halls, covered tennis courts and a £300,000 donation to help save Henley YMCA?s housing were some of the ideas put forward by Henley Town Council election candidates at a hustings event.

TWO new community halls, covered tennis courts and a £300,000 donation to help save Henley YMCA?s housing were some of the ideas put forward by Henley Town Council election candidates at a hustings event.

The speakers were Henley Residents? Group chairman Stefan Gawrysiak, David Silvester, of the Oxfordshire Independent Party, Liberal Democrat David Thomas, who was standing in for Neill Hendry, and Green Party candidate Richard Rule. About 50 people gathered for the hustings at the d:two centre in Market Place on Tuesday evening.

The candidates were asked what they would do if they had £1million to spend. Councillor Gawrysiak, a sitting councillor, said the money should be used to benefit the whole community,

HRG would give a chunk to the YMCA to help it purchase its accommodation after its parent organisation announced that it was leaving the housing sector. Some would go on a traffic management system and some would be used to establish a fund to give grants to sports and recreational groups.

Councillor Silvester, who is also a sitting councillor, said he would spend £350,000 on indoor tennis courts and £250,000 each on new community halls on the Gainsborough and Abrahams estates. The remaining £150,000 would be put towards the new skate park to be built at Makins recreation ground.

Mr Thomas, who is standing for Henley in the South Oxford District Council elections, said he wanted an arcade of small shops and to create opportunities for young people with families.

Mr Rule said he invest some of the money in the Low Carbon Hub, a social enterprise tackling climate change in Oxfordshire. The candidates were also asked how they would help improve and develop amenities for residents and visitors.

Cllr Gawrysiak said it was important to have a community that was ?clean, tidy and functioning?.

Cllr Silvester said managerial and financial assistance should be offered to Henley Rugby Club and Henley Town Football Club.

Mr Thomas said the under-18s needed to be looked after because they were ?very disaffected?.

Mr Rule said the Greens were looking at the idea of a permanent covered market and introducing free parking for electric vehicles at the town?s car parks.

Former mayor Ken Arlett, who is a UKIP district council candidate, asked for the panel?s view on Gillotts School being given permission to sell part of its playing fields for housing. All four members candidates said they were against a sake but Cllr Gawrysiak, who used to teach the school, said Gillotts required major refurbishment.

Cllr Silvester said: ?Sport is as important as academic pursuits and the sporting lives of the children that go to that school are going to be greatly affected.?

Mr Rule said: ?The money is always there and we should be prioritising the important things in this country.?

Justin Bowles, a member of the Henley in Transition group, asked about pedestrianise more parts of the town centre.

Mr Rule said he would consider extending the pedestrianised area into down Hart Street but Cllr Silvester said the roads were narrow enough and he didn?t believe in more pedestrianisation.

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